Los 10 países más pequeños del mundo o el encanto de lo diminuto

From the planet, the ten smallest countries are these from smallest to largest. Their size is, precisely, one of their charms. Some occupy the top positions in the list of the most touristy countries and all of them have a curious history behind them that has made them endure over time. These 10 countries are the tiniest states on the globe. You don’t always have to be big to occupy a prominent place in the world.

Interior de la basílica de San Pedro, en Ciudad del Vaticano.
Interior de la basílica de San Pedro, en Ciudad del Vaticano.roberto dallai

Vatican City: the largest gathering of art in the world

Area: 0.44 square kilometers. Population: 1,000 inhabitants.

The Vatican City, known for its colorful blue, yellow, and red uniform, represents the modern vestige of the Pontifical States, a feudal territory that governed the center of Italy and Rome until their reunification in 1861. The city was founded in 1929 after the signing of the Lateran Pacts and a basilica was constructed in the place where Emperor Constantine, in homage to his belief in Christianity, ordered a burial site. The Pope, who resides in a palace with more than a dozen rooms, is entrusted with the protection of the Swiss Guards, whose famous rituals and traditions are believed to be sacred. The Vatican City, the headquarters of the Catholic Church, is also known as the center of the Italian capital and is home to the largest collection of artworks in the world. Despite being the smallest country in the world, the Vatican is enclosed within an area of less than half a square kilometer.

Exploring the Vatican Museums is an immense undertaking, as they house a greater number of artistic treasures than numerous nations, with a stretch of exhibitions spanning seven kilometers that lie beyond the magnificence of St. Peter’s Basilica. In reality, it is approximated that it would require a duration of up to 12 years to observe everything if we dedicated one minute to each individual masterpiece.

El casco histórico amurallado de Mónaco asomado sobre el Mediterráneo.
El casco histórico amurallado de Mónaco asomado sobre el Mediterráneo.

Monaco: The Charm of the Pink Life

Area: 1.95 square kilometers. Population: 30,000 residents.

Monaco invites you to a fun excursion to Costa Azul, starting with a tour of the famous places and culminating with a visit to the excellent oceanographic museum, followed by a fascinating night at the casino. It is a captivating experience for many, as Monaco is known for its famous royal family scandals, its renowned circus festival, and its prestigious Formula 1 Grand Prix. It is also known as a fiscal paradise due to its varied sports offerings and its glamorous casino. Despite the astronomical prices and blocks of apartments, Monaco offers sparkling beaches and beautiful medieval villages. It is a rare sight that doesn’t fail to impress first-time visitors. Monaco has been attracting visitors from all over the world for decades, with its hedonistic and glamorous reputation. Although it lacks in size, it compensates with its attitude, making it the second smallest country in the world but like a fairytale place.

In just twenty minutes by train, it is frequent for a sovereign state like Monaco to visit Nice on a day trip. The Casino de Monte Carlo, a monumental building built in 1910, offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean from its rooftop. It is also an advanced research center and a marvelously encrusted museum perched vertiginously on a cliff since 1910. The first strategic enclave, built as a fortress in the 13th century, now serves as the private residence of the royal family. The Casino, the Oceanographic Museum, and the historic fortified center known as Rocher, Le or Ville Monaco, are three essential points to visit.

Formaciones rocosas en una playa de Nauru.
Formaciones rocosas en una playa de Nauru.

Nauru: the country that relied on bats for survival

Area: 21.3 km². Population: 13,000 residents.

Despite never having been a tourist destination, Nauru Island, whose beauty lies in the spectacularity of its coasts where marine birds swoop over green cliffs and the whole sea is contemplated at sunset, treasures so many natural attractions. To find the world’s smallest third country, there is a jump from Ecuador’s coastline to the south of the Marshall Islands, towards the center of the Pacific.

The history of this Micronesian republic has been somewhat erratic. The bats, which are actually a phosphate mine, were the export of an unusual resource thanks to which the few thousand inhabitants of the island prospered for a century. The standard of living of its population became very high, they lived well from the guano deposits, but suddenly, in 2002, these reserves were depleted and the government went bankrupt. Today, cargo ships are barely seen and work is scarce, poverty has arrived. Their hope may lie in the arrival of tourism because there are plenty of opportunities to swim and dive or admire a wonderful sunset over the coconut trees on the coast.

Other countries already have plans for the evacuation of their population due to the rise in sea levels caused by climate change.

El islote de Teafualiku, frente al atolón de Funafuti, en Tuvalu, está amenazado por el aumento del nivel del mar.
El islote de Teafualiku, frente al atolón de Funafuti, en Tuvalu, está amenazado por el aumento del nivel del mar.

Tuvalu: a paradise on the verge of submersion

Area: 26 km². Population: 11,508 residents.

Tuvalu, the ancient Ellice Islands, is also located in Polynesia, roughly halfway between Hawaii and Australia. It is the third smallest country in the world in terms of population, with only Vatican City and Nauru having fewer inhabitants. The country is made up of nine coral atolls, where natural resources are almost non-existent. However, this is not apparent from the air. From a bird’s-eye view, Tuvalu appears as a stunning turquoise spot, surrounded by coral and dotted with palm tree-covered islets. It is a fragile paradise in the Pacific, with very little land. The main island of Tuvalu, Fongafale, is so narrow that when the airplane approaches the runway, it gives the sensation of almost landing in the ocean.

Disaster looms as the Robinsones arrive at the South Seas to play something similar. They can explore the deserted palm-covered islands of this corner of the planet, where they may feel curiosity to visit Funafuti’s conservation area, participate in the curious local culture such as trying the local food base of fruits from the bread tree and taro, seafood and fish, attending a national dance session or playing sports like playing two balls made of pandanus leaves at night. If necessary, New Zealand currently accepts immigrants, so Tuvalu’s population begins to immerse themselves in the curiosity of what will happen to their inhabitants and the fate of the islands as scientists predict that the rising sea level continues to make the islands disappear from the face of the Earth. Unfortunately, the long-term ecological threat to this nation of atolls is the increase in coastal erosion due to the rise in water levels caused by the contamination of salt in the areas dedicated to crops and the porous coral that the islands settle on, as well as the global warming.

La 'falesia' La Cesta, una de las tres torres que dominan los picos que rodean San Marino.
La ‘falesia’ La Cesta, una de las tres torres que dominan los picos que rodean San Marino.

San Marino: the oldest republic in the world

Area: 61 square kilometers. Population: 34,590 residents.

When a Croatian stonemason built a church on a high cliff, he was born in the year 301 AD in Europe: it boasts of being the oldest republic. It offers spectacular views from the top of Mount Titano, without the need for a sea exit or a winged sea. It is a species from the Adriatic, which has a mere existence in the rugged zone of a dozen kilometers from the coast of the Marche and Emilia-Romagna regions in Italy. It is more curious and smaller than the fifth world, among the independent countries of the 193.

The survival of the country does not depend on a generous fiscal regime with low taxes for large fortunes that allow foreign investment and financial services, but rather on other curiosities and a set of quite strange museums dedicated to figures such as torture and vampires, as well as its evocative streets and picturesque views, which are the main attraction. In 2008, the medieval city of San Marino, presided over by the slopes of Mount Titano, was incorporated into the UNESCO World Heritage as the most ancient and former sovereign state in the world. The country is formed by nine municipalities that make up the ancient and most important city, and it continues to be entrusted with the condition of being the only survivor of the collapse of the Italian city-states, without being infected or perpetuated by the downfall of Venice and the once powerful Italian states.

El castillo de Vaduz, en Liechtenstein.
El castillo de Vaduz, en Liechtenstein.

Liechtenstein: small, wealthy, and picturesque

Area: 160 square kilometers. Population: 36,000 residents.

Liechtenstein, a tiny principality in the heart of Europe, is known for being one of the wealthiest countries in the world and a fiscal paradise. However, it lacks an international airport, with only a 25-kilometer long and 12-kilometer wide urban bus serving as its main transportation. If this place didn’t exist, someone would have invented it, as its alpine landscapes and monarchy are straight out of a 19th-century fairy tale book. It is also worth mentioning that Liechtenstein has no direct or indirect access to the sea, being landlocked between its neighbors Switzerland and Austria.

Almost all travelers pass through Liechtenstein by way of Switzerland, stopping only to stamp a souvenir in their passport and photograph Vaduz Castle. The country possesses an overwhelming natural beauty due to its diminutive size, making it worth a visit. If one ventures beyond Vaduz, they will find themselves in the rugged Alps, where well-marked trails cover over 400 kilometers. Following the famous Fürstenteig trail or discovering unique ski resorts like Malbun is a rite of passage for all inhabitants of the country, whether they are experienced hikers or beginners. And for those who wish to get closer to the silhouette that stands out against the horizon, they can visit Gutenberg Burg, a castle from the 13th century in Vaduz.

Vista aérea de los islotes que conforman el atolón Kwajalein en las islas Marshall.
Vista aérea de los islotes que conforman el atolón Kwajalein en las islas Marshall.

Marshall Islands: The Spirit of the South Seas

Area: 189 square kilometers. Population: 58,413 inhabitants.

The Marshall Islands, a Republic in the RMI, are inhabited by expert sailors and fishermen who have been living in these narrow strips of land for a long time. The Marshall Islands consist of around a thousand coral islands scattered over just 190 kilometers of land. As we turn to the South Seas, we find the Marshall Islands as tiny countries looking to continue their search.

The Marshall Islands are one of the youngest countries on the planet, having achieved complete independence on December 22, 1990. They are a subsidized colony of the United States, relying heavily on tourism and fishing for their livelihood. The production of dried coconut pulp (copra) is essential for manufacturing and sustenance. The effects of this dependency on the US are evident in all aspects of life. The Marshall Islands are located in the northeastern part of Micronesia, towards the northeast of Australia.

The humblest streets, surrounded by family members, continue to live in the flower-filled enclosures. The Marshallese, residing in these neighborhoods, sell international food in well-stocked stores and restaurants that offer basketball courts and dishes from different countries. These influences reflect the history of these islands in Micronesia, inhabited, visited, and occupied by American, Japanese, German, Russian, and British troops and missionaries after 2,000 years of isolation, reflecting the faces of the native people at the end of the 18th century.

Diving with sharks or among the sunken remains of the Saratoga aircraft carrier is its major attraction. Today, the Bikini Atoll, which has a tragic history as a nuclear testing site, is one of the main diving areas in Micronesia. With magnificent waters for deep-sea fishing, the Arno Atoll preserves the untouched atmosphere of a paradise in the Pacific. The charm of the Marshall Islands lies in its outer islands.

Panorámica desde la localidad de Kittitian, en San Cristóbal y Nieves.
Panorámica desde la localidad de Kittitian, en San Cristóbal y Nieves.

San Cristóbal and Nieves: the smallest country in the Americas

Area: 261 square kilometers. Population: 51,134 residents.

In both size and population, they are the smallest country in the American continent. They border the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean, and were discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to America, as St. Kitts and Nevis, a nation formed by two islands. The Caribbean also houses some of the tiniest countries.

The oriental island of the Caribbean conserves its intact qualities, despite being a rapidly changing model. It now transports tourists, even though it used to serve as a train for transporting sugar cane. Meanwhile, a new economy based on tourism emerges on the island’s beautiful beaches. The enormous plantations, which were once the nation’s main source of sustenance and cultivation, have been abandoned. However, the wild sugar cane, which spans for kilometers and kilometers, still leads to the northern extreme of San Cristóbal, the largest of the two islands. Today, tourists try to discover the rich history and beautiful mountains that combine with the beaches of these two scarce islands.

Charlestown, a minuscule capital, and a few exquisite shores are situated at the base of a volcanic peak, rendering Nieves potentially more captivating as a complete package, despite the resemblances in the landscapes of the islands. Nevertheless, the exploration of the island by automobile only takes a mere two hours, albeit it is truly enjoyable.

Complejo turístico en una isla de Maldivas.
Complejo turístico en una isla de Maldivas.

Maldives: Luxurious Paradise in the Indian Ocean

Area: 298 km². Population: 393,988 residents.

The Maldives, simply the Maldives, represent a luxurious paradise with beautiful white sandy beaches, an astonishing underwater world that has turned into a destination for honeymoon trips and diving vacations, and more. Spread across almost 1,200 islands, covering an area of about 300 square kilometers, the Maldives are the epitome of a paradise.

The main attraction for nearly a million visitors each year is the tiny place in the Indian Ocean, and it is not found in any other part of the planet like these sandy beaches. The common denominator is a perfectly harmonious combination of the bluish-green waters and a pure white and fine blanket, although some of these islands have a few more grains of sand. The Maldives probably have some of the best beaches in the world, but it may sound pretentious.

Choosing which knowledge is the only problem, each resort in the Maldives has its own private island, with over 100 to choose from. For those who desire a serene experience and a return to nature, there are islands for divers, families, and travelers with a tight budget. It’s not just luxurious five and six-star hotels, there are also options for nature lovers and those who want a more affordable experience.

The remote Noonu Atoll offers an opportunity to explore the local culture and experience authentic life, away from the resort’s spa and pool. Additionally, visitors can indulge in local cuisine. The southernmost Atoll, Addu, is home to stunning deer horn corals that display an incredible range of colors. For instance, diving enthusiasts can have a unique encounter with hammerhead sharks at the renowned Hammerhead Point in the Rasdhoo Atoll. However, the most remarkable experiences are found in the underwater depths surrounding the islands. Here, houses are painted in vibrant colors, markets are bustling, and tea rooms offer a taste of local hospitality. These experiences typically begin in the capital, Male.

Panorámica de La Valeta, la capital de Malta, con la catedral anglicana de San Pablo al fondo.
Panorámica de La Valeta, la capital de Malta, con la catedral anglicana de San Pablo al fondo.Getty Images

Malta: the small heart of the Mediterranean

Area: 316 square kilometers. Population: 439,800 residents.

Intensely surprising is the story of this archipelago formed by three tiny islands, where the traveler finds hidden coves, cliffs dotted with fossils, and perfect corners for diving, as well as fortresses, churches, and palaces. It has always been a unique and original enclave, strategically located in the center of the Mediterranean, with a fusion of cultures and a fascinating and rich history. Despite being attracted by other attractions such as learning languages or beaches, tourism has also turned it into a great tourist attraction. One should listen attentively to the local language and enjoy the peculiar British atmosphere with classic red telephone booths, as well as try the Sicilian-inspired cuisine, which reflects the historical Arab links and ancient temples made of stone. There is so much to discover in this small space.